Columbia County looks for ways to fill empty bus driver seats

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News 12 at 11 O'clock / Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a problem students and parents have been facing for weeks-- late and severely overcrowded buses.

School officials in Columbia County are hoping a new action plan will help solve transportation problems and as News 12 reports families may start noticing results as early as Wednesday.

Even though 11th grader Taylor Williams drives to school instead of riding the bus, she still feels the pain.

"The first day at work was really hectic. There was a lot of commotion," Williams told News 12.

After class, Williams works at an elementary school in Columbia County.

"I know when I left at 5:30 p.m. on the first day there were kids that still had to be picked up from buses," said Williams.

Buses bringing kids home late in the afternoon and others not even having room for them all to sit down is why they're making changes.

"This year has been more challenging them some in the past," said Dewayne Porter.

Porter is in charge of the school buses in Columbia County.

"We did put together an action plan to try and keep a full slate of drivers 12 months out of the year," Porter told News 12.

Tuesday night Columbia County Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway presented a plan that focuses on recruiting and keeping more drivers along with better communication.

"If we have a bus that a little crowded, we can shift some students to another bus to take care of that immediately," Porter said.

It will take up to six weeks before the county will have all 217 driver slots filled, but Porter said you'll notice changes soon.

"Everyday things are going to get better. We have drivers scheduled to take their driving test this week. So, as soon as they finish their training they will be on a bus," he said.

Drivers seats that can't be filled fast enough for parents and students like Williams.

"Kids have homework to do, they have after school activities. Their parents expect them to be home at a certain time and when they are not I am sure they are upset," she said

The systems has 187 qualified drivers, but 194 routes. Sixteen people are in training and they should have a full staff of 217 in place in four to six weeks.

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